April 17, 2012
Extreme Makeover: Washington Edition
I read the following (parts and pieces of a larger article) on CNN yesterday:
How about an ice skating rink on the National Mall, just a stone's throw from the Lincoln Memorial? Or a new, expanded outdoor amphitheater next to the Washington Monument, where people sit on the grass and watch a performance?
These ideas and more have been submitted by designers in a competition to spruce up the giant park at the center of the District of Columbia.
The non-profit Trust for the National Mall has asked for proposals that would improve how people use the park, and would add amenities like restaurants and bathrooms.
The Trust says no taxpayer money would be involved. Instead, it is aiming to pay for the renovations with private donations, and it hopes to raise $350 million with the help of former first lady Laura Bush.
Now, anyone who's been to DC in the last five years understands that it's an awesome but slightly shabby city. The Mall - seriously one of the most impressive places in the world - is starting to show its age. And lots of folks who live in and around the city have been pressuring the powers that be for a little cleanup. But as I scrolled past the story and on to the comments, I really got scared. What I saw weren't just the objections of normal people but partisan fanaticism. And racism. Some excerpts:
- DC should be abandoned and a new Capitol built in the center of the country, safe from Iranian nuclear weapons. The new Capitol could be the size of a Walmart Supercenter if Senators and Representatives were required to stay in their districts; with teleconferencing, a national meeting house is not needed.
- This is really just a plot to take away space that people use to congregate en mass and protest.
- Why spruce up DC when the rest of america is becoming a rundown dump?
- the best move to improve dc is to tear it down
- ....paid for with cash donations. So it will be just like buying votes but instead of getting something like Obama care we'll get a mall to glorify Obama's new America with hope and change. Were's the big grassy area going to be? You can't pound tent pegs into concrete.
- They forgot to pencil in all the police barricades that keep honest Americans out from enjoying our capital... and all the police vehicles and on foot police that basically move you around like cattle when you are just trying to enjoy the scenery. I have been down to DC several times trying to enjoy the beauty of our national mall with my wife... every time turned away and closed off by authorities with no explanation. Ehh, maybe next year if Mitt gets in they will relax a bit and let tax payers enjoy the stuff they pay for.
- All the different nationalities? When I visited DC all I saw were the 'rainbow shades' of black.
Look, I know that commenting on CNN is like writing a review on Amazon. You speak up because you're passionate and that passion usually takes overwhelmingly positive or negative form. I get that. But it scares me when people seen an issue like cleaning up the Mall - in the capital of this country - and installing some bathrooms as a partisan political conspiracy designed to shut them up. Or, worse, as a tool of some mythical black power or communist movement. And that - in my most dire and depressing of moods - makes me feel like we're on the brink of some rift that will be all but impossible to recover from.
I cross my fingers every day that there are enough people on both sides of the political aisle committed to working together and continuing the journey this country and her citizens undertook over 200 years ago. But I'm not always convinced that's the case.Posted by Chris at April 17, 2012 7:28 AM